Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hallowed Ground - A visit to the Champs Elysees

At some point or another, every cyclist should visit one of cycling's hallowed grounds.  There are many and offer a truly unique experience.  In December, my wife and I had a chance to visit Paris.  On day one, after arriving and having some wine, we set out for the Champs Elysee.  I wanted to soak in the feeling and karma of the finish line and she wanted to shop.  A holiday market made it a truly crazy experience.  Using pictures and the many hours I have spent viewing Tour videos, I tried to find the finish line of Le Tour and get a pic.  Here it is, Blue Sky representing at the finish of Le Tour.  

You cannot really tell from the picture, but the road is slightly cobbled and uphill as it approaches Le Arc de Triumph.  The riders make it look easy, but a crit on this same course would likely split the field of a cat 4 or 3 race.  All the sightseeing and uphill walking created a need for some food and wine.  Thankfully, Paris is filled with many cafes and we sampled some local faire.  Not bad.  Notice the near empty wine glass.  

To add to the cycling flair, we figured out how to use the rental bikes.  This is a great system where using a prepaid debit type card (this is a total hassle to purchase and fund) to pick up bikes around the city.  We were able to find bikes all around town.  You simply ride from neighborhood to neighborhood and put the bike back on the rack.  It is locked up and you cannot get it off the rack without your debit card.  This was a wonderful way to view the city and allowed us to cover way more ground than walking and using the subway.  Also, Paris drivers were super respectful of cyclists and we never had any issues, even taking on huge roundabouts.  Imagine a roundabout on Colfax during rush hour.  All we had to do was point and cars allowed us in.  Amazing.

If you have never been to a cycling Mecca, find a way to visit one, at least once.  I know many of you have been to other hallowed locations in Belgium, Italy, etc.  Post it up.

1 comment:

Marty said...

Charlie, I can see that this was clearly a sucky vacation. Thanks for suffering through it and allowing us to see how crappy it is out in the world. :)